As one of the three U.S. Air Force maintenance flight depots, the Ogden Air Logistics Center Aircraft Directorate provides depot repair, modification, and maintenance support to major aircraft weapons systems. Presently, their workload mix includes the A-10 Warthog ground attack aircraft, C-130 Hercules transport, and the F-16 Falcon Fighter. More than 2,200 civilian and military employees are responsible for supporting the war fighter.
Each year, the workload mix for the three different weapon systems is shifting. To meet customer deadlines at reasonable cost, program managers must compete for Aircraft Flight Directorate facilities and resources. Before simulation modeling was introduced, planning and scheduling was a tedious manual process and there was no analytical tool that integrated all three weapon systems at the top level. Numerous and diverse factors further complicated the goal of timely job completion. They included delinquent aircraft arrivals, varied requirements for depot maintenance, inclement weather, and late delivery of repair materials, worker turnover, routing obstacles, and many other miscellaneous bottlenecks.
Because of the complexity of the project, discrete event simulation was selected as the most effective way to evaluate different scenarios. The Air Logistics Center contracted with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to design a simulation model that can be used to analyze strategic resource allocations and process improvements. The model also facilitates analysis of ‘what-if’ scenarios by allowing the user to modify various components of the business. PwC developed the model using ProcessModel simulation software, a process analysis and simulation tool used at other Air Force and military sites around the globe. PwC utilized a rational software selection analysis and ultimately selected ProcessModel because it was user friendly, flexible, cost effective, and it provided the detailed features needed to satisfy requirements
Although only recently implemented, the model has correctly predicted current bottlenecks arising from system variability, complexity, and resource constraints. Based on our involvement with this project, we feel ProcessModel is well suited for analyzing, understanding, and improving the depot maintenance processes. Furthermore, it has provided the advanced features needed to construct such a unique, open architecture simulator. This quantitative tool enables the Aircraft Directorate to provide depot maintenance in a timelier, competitively priced fashion.
The Aircraft Directorate simulation models will be useful for both developing long-term strategic plans and evaluating near-term tactical decisions. In the near future, PwC and the Aircraft Directorate plan to enhance the simulation model and use it to analyze the most problematic shared resources and back shop routes. These modifications will allow the Aircraft Directorate to dramatically improve resource allocations, thus creating a more sensible balance between the levels of cost and service.